Patriots, Scotties both hoping to rebound

Schenectady will be in an unfam­iliar position in tonight’s Section II Class AA quarterfinal footbal
Schenectady football coach Carmen DePoalo shouts encouragement to his team as they practice Thursday night in Mont Pleasant, preparing for the playoffs.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Schenectady football coach Carmen DePoalo shouts encouragement to his team as they practice Thursday night in Mont Pleasant, preparing for the playoffs.

Schenectady will be in an unfam­iliar position in tonight’s Section II Class AA quarterfinal football game against Ballston Spa at Larry Mulvaney Field.

The Patriots will be looking to bounce back from defeat.

“We played a bad game last week, but now it’s 0-0,” Schenectady coach Carm DePoalo said of the program’s seventh postseason appearance. “Last week is over, and this is a new ball game. If we play our game, I believe we’ll move on to the next level.”

Schenectady (6-1) saw its school-record winning streak end last week against Shaker, 17-7, while Ballston Spa (4-3) let a monumental victory slip away on a late kickoff return by Shenendehowa in a 45-41 defeat. That set up the only sectional game this weekend matching two teams coming off losses.

“We’re inches away from being 6-1. We had first-and-goal at the eight with two minutes left against Bethlehem, and we couldn’t punch it in. We lose by two,” Ballston Spa coach John Bowen said of his team’s 14-12 Week 6 loss. “We’re an eyelash away, and that’s what I try to instill in the kids, to keep their heads up.

“We just have to find a way to take care of business.”

Ballston Spa did that for four straight weeks before its two-game slide, while Schenectady reeled off its six straight triumphs, including signature wins against Shenendehowa, Newburgh Free Academy and LaSalle, before last week’s disappointment.

“We’ve worked hard all year, and we’ve been successful. We’re a good football team, and we can be successful again,” said DePoalo. “We need to come up tough.”

The Patriots are certain to be tested by Ballston Spa’s option offense and triggerman Mark Seager. The junior quarterback ran for 180 yards and his team-best 10th touchdown last week, fullback Van Huyben plowed for four touchdowns and Shane LaChance added another.

“We’ve got to concentrate on stopping their option offense,” said DePoalo. “Our defensive ends [Rashawn Champ, Marcus Brandon] have done a good job of containing, and we’ll need them to do it again. It’s going to be an interesting matchup.”

Seager surpassed 100 rushing yards for the fourth time last week with his season-high, and has the Scotties in position to win a third quarterfinal in as many years. Schen­ectady has only one playoff win in its 21-year history, against Shenendehowa in 2001.

“Mark has obviously been a very pleasant surprise for us,” said Bowen. “Losing our three running backs from last year, for us to have a shot, Mark had to take on the role of a leader. He has. He’s stepped up and done an excellent job.”

Up until last week, so had the entire Schenectady offense. Quarterback Nick Ottati produced the only touchdown against Shaker in a game accented by missed oppor­tunities in the red zone, a key turnover and another key penalty.

“They were missing some guys, like that little running back,” Bowen said of Schenectady’s Herman Seise, who complements rushing and scoring leader Marc Thompson. “They’re going to have them all back, and that presents a big challenge for us.

“Their receivers are big and physical, their quarterback can do so many things and I haven’t even mentioned No. 34 [Thompson]. They have so many weapons. ”

Schenectady was at its best on both sides against LaSalle, forcing four turnovers and cashing three into first-half touchdowns. Ottati scored on three quarterback sneaks, threw his 14th touchdown pass of the year to Anthony Cooper and Seise bolted 44 yards for a score in Schenectady’s rousing 34-7 win that clinched the Liberty Division championship and No. 1 playoff seed. Seise had his first career

100-yard rushing game, and Thompson eclipsed 100 for the sixth time in seven games.

“We’re going to try to minimize, to the best of our ability, their big plays,” said Bowen, whose defense is anchored by tackles Chris Callanan and Nick Gallo, ends Chris Ohnsman and Huyben, linebacker Kyle Warmt and backs Josh Fabian and LaChance. “I’m hoping we can hold them off enough, and counter with our offense.”

Ballston Spa showed plenty of offensive pop last week before Tyler Dehmer’s 82-yard kickoff return in the final seconds turned around its 41-38 lead.

“The kids were devastated. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t leave a sour taste,” Bowen said. “It went from that to a little more palpable when we found out that we would have been going to Schenectady, no matter what, even if we won, because of the quarter points.”

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (7-0) begins its bid for a third straight Class A final at home tonight against Averill Park (3-4). Schalmont (6-1) makes its first postseason appearance since 2003, and its fourth in program history, at home against Hudson (2-5) in a Class B game.

Categories: High School Sports

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